Born and raised in Istanbul, Elif is a Turkish producer who is quickly gaining recognition in the world of dance music. Since making her debut in 2019, she has been creating a unique sound and releasing music on well-known labels such as Stil vor Talent, Anjunadeep, Kindisch, and Gardens of Babylon.
Photo credit: Elif- Official
Elif recently launched her own label, Marginalia, a community-driven label that aims to support and nurture talented producers whose music plays an integral part in Elif’s DJ sets worldwide. To celebrate the launch of Marginalia, Elif has released the highly anticipated EP ‘Medusa’ including collaborations with Brazilian producer Althoff and Tel Aviv-based artist Takiru, as well as an original solo track by the artist herself.
EG recently interviewed Elif, discussing her new label and EP, as well as her latest projects, and future plans.
EG: Hi Elif! Welcome to EG. It’s a pleasure to have you here with us. How have you been? Where are you right now?
Elif: Hello! Thanks so much for having me. I’m quite busy but actually, working and traveling a lot these days but the good thing is I am very motivated and happy. I am at home in Barcelona right now.
EG: First of all, congratulations on the launch of your new label, Marginalia. What was the reason to create your own imprint?
Elif: Thank you so much! There are a few things that made me take this decision. Let me explain. In the last 2 years, I traveled a lot to play music and played a lot of unreleased and unsigned music from my super-talented producer friends who were generously sharing their tracks with me. I was on the big stages playing the outcome of their hard work in the studio making lots of people dance and getting all the compliments and claps – and also the financial compensation- while my friends were spending hours in their home studios. To me, this is not fair, nor sustainable for the continuity and the integrity of our scene.
I also experienced while trying to help connect my talented producer friends with big labels, how hard it is to sign good music to some established labels unless you have a strong social media or a big artist profile or you are part of a historically underprivileged group. I feel like these big labels don’t even care about the quality of music but only invest in certain artist profiles who they also happen to represent for bookings.
Another thing that was worrying me was how copy-paste the music started to sound because of very talented producers not getting their very original work appreciated by some of these big labels – that in their own words could be ‘life changing’ – and started making music that sounds in a certain way to ‘make it’. These labels are so big and influential that they kind of dictate what music is going to be played in the clubs.
I am aware I can not single-handedly change how the scene works, but I can, in my own way, do what I think is right. So these were the reasons for me to create my own imprint; to share the spotlight I was having with my talented producer friends, to come together under the Marginalia family and grow together, to sign good music not a popular artist profile, and also to encourage my producer friends to create original and unique music instead of copy paste of certain sounds.
EG: What is the musical concept behind your label?
Elif: I will and I am signing music that I like and I would play. I don’t want to define a genre or put myself, or my artists, in a certain box. I mix many different styles and genres that have certain qualities and the same goes for my label.
EG: What are the plans, in terms of releases, for the rest of the year? Is there anything you can anticipate on that front?
Elif: I am starting the label with a 3-track EP, one original from me, and two collaborations with good friends whose music I have been playing all over. The first EP already showcases what I want to do with Marginalia; lots of collaborations, not a certain genre of music.
“I am aware I can not single-handedly change how the scene works, but I can, in my own way, do what I think is right”
EG: You’re Turkish, but based in Barcelona. Was the move motivated by music?
Elif: The move was motivated by many things. The extreme drop of our currency catalyzed a rent crisis and I was forced to move out of my apartment in Istanbul and I had to pay 10 times what I was paying to have a similar flat with similar qualities. When I did the math a flat in Barcelona and the living costs were way cheaper than in Istanbul despite our currency being 1/30 with Euros. This extreme rise happened in less than a year. This economic crisis also makes it more difficult to get visas and enter certain zones or countries where I need to perform regularly. I did not want to risk not being able to do my job because of my passport.
Also because Turkey is out of the EU, even a short 1-hour flight to Europe is considered an international flight whereas from Barcelona I can fly everywhere in Europe domestically, which saves me so much time because I travel every weekend. Plus Barcelona airport is so much more compact and easier to get there and fly out compared to the huge one in Istanbul.
But I feel like the main reason is the people who have been running my country for over two decades were making it more difficult to live there in every sense and I just wanted to have some peace of mind, maybe not worrying if I’m going to die in an earthquake or terrorist attack. I miss Istanbul and my flat and my friends and my life there but It started to make no sense for me to live there. I moved to Barcelona in January and I already feel at home here.
EG: In which ways would you say the move impacted your music and your sound?
Elif: I don’t know if the move impacted my music or sound. I have an amazing group of creative friends here in Barcelona and we exchange a lot of ideas and music but I think the internet makes it so easy that you don’t really need to physically be in a place for this.
EG: Now, stepping away from the studio for a bit…Have you found any good books, movies, or albums lately that you’d recommend?
Elif: After playing at a party in Berlin we came back home to the flat of a friend where she played me the ‘The Chill Out Room’ album by Alex Cortiz and I got hooked. I like to listen to it at home while cooking or reading.
Speaking of; I read a lot but since I moved to Spain in January to give a boost to my Spanish I started reading in that language and to make my life easier I read some classics where I know the story a little bit. For this not a lot of new discoveries lately. But I can highly suggest the kind of a coffee book table I found, maybe not something to read page by page in order but open and read a few pages for a little inspiration kind of book. It’s called ‘The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin’
Sadly I don’t watch a lot of movies.
“I will always remember 2023 as the year I played Coachella, Tomorrowland, Fusion, and started my own label”
EG: Right now, social media seems to play a completely prominent role in the development of an artist’s career. What’s your stance on this? Is the bringing us closer than ever, or is it drawing our attention away from the actual music?
Elif: Both! It’s an incredible way to connect to fans and fellow artists and get inspired and share your work with the world but this coin has two sides and it can also be extremely toxic for mental health and unfortunately drawing attention away from the actual music. One should be extremely mindful about both consuming and creating content. I feel like this should be the topic of another interview dedicated only to this issue. So much to say and consider. Not an easy one.
EG: What’s next for Elif? Where can your fans catch you next? What new milestones are you looking forward to in 2023?
Elif: Until the year ends I have confirmed shows in London, Berlin, Cape Town, Munster, Cairo, Amsterdam, New York, San Jose, DC, Zurich, Basel, Thailand, Istanbul, and probably more. I will always remember 2023 as the year I played Coachella, Tomorrowland, Fusion and started my own label. If you told me this at the beginning of 2022 maybe I would not believe it! These were the big milestones for me this year alongside some other amazing shows I had the privilege to play and incredible musicians I had the privilege to remix or collaborate with. I am looking forward to closing the year with a great lineup alongside good friends and incredible nature in Costa Rica for Labyrinth.
EG: Thank you for your time, Elif! We’re excited to see what’s in store for you. Take care!
Elif: Thank you for these questions!
Elif’s ‘Medusa’ is out now via Marginalia. Download your copy here.